A European festival of geological heritage and education will ensure that half-term really rocks, with a series of walks, events and activities based in an area which is internationally recognised for the promotion of its geology.
The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark will be a focus of activity for European Geoparks Week. The joint celebration, between 25 May and 10 June, involves all of the UNESCO Global Geoparks in Europe, with events connecting people with the geological heritage of their local area.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership has organised events to appeal to families, geology enthusiasts and those who simply want to understand more about the geo-heritage of this fascinating area.
Running right up to the end of Geoparks week will be the ‘Map that Changed the World’ exhibition, which has brought a significant piece of scientific heritage into the heart of the Geopark. William Smith is known as the ‘father of English geology’ and an original version of his groundbreaking geological map is on display at the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s visitor centre at Bowlees.
Other highlights include educational and fun activities for children and their families over the May half term, guided walks looking at geological and mining heritage, and events that focus on the natural heritage that thrives in this landscape.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “European Geoparks Week is an opportunity for us to raise the profile of the area’s UNESCO Global Geopark status while also providing a programme of unique things to see and do that connect directly to the landscape of the North Pennines.
“We’ve been honoured to have the William Smith map at our visitor centre in Upper Teesdale. It will still be there in European Geoparks Week, giving people the chance to see this very beautiful and globally important piece of our geological heritage.”
26th May – Discovery Club, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Quiet as a mouse – looking at small mammals living in the dry stone walls around Bowlees Visitor Centre. Booking essential*
27th May – Nenthead Mines Open Day
Underground tours and geology walks above ground. No booking required.
28th May – Upper Teesdale’s Magical Meadows
With Durham Wildlife Trust. Drop in between 12noon and 3pm for meadow focused family-friendly activities at Bowlees Visitor Centre. Free event. https://durhamwt.com/event/upper-teesdales-magic-meadows. No booking required.
30th May – Wild Wednesday – Earth Works
Two sessions 10.30am -12.30pm & 1.30-3.30pm: rock and soil based activities. £3 per child. Booking essential*.
3rd June – The Makings of a Landscape
Guided walk from Bowlees Visitor Centre during European Geoparks Week, revealing some of the secrets of the geology of Teesdale and how it influences the land-form, land use and wildlife. 2.5 miles. Please wear boots or strong shoes. £3. Booking essential*.
4th June – Low Slitt and Middlehope Shield Mines Guided Walk
Join mining historian Ian Forbes and geologist Brian Young for a tour of these linked 19th century mine sites. The OREsome North Pennines project is bringing together our knowledge of the mining history, geology and ecology of these Scheduled Monuments. Come and find out how these features interact and overlap. Three miles with frequent stops. Grade: Easy. £3 – booking essential*. Please bring a packed lunch. 10:30am – 4pm – meeting point is the layby on the A689 in the middle of Westgate village.
9th June – Three Waterfalls in One Walk
In European Geoparks Week join us on a 5-mile walk that sets off from Bowlees Visitor Centre and takes in three stunning waterfalls, High Force, Low Force and Summerhill Force. Please wear sturdy footwear and waterproof clothing. £3. Booking essential*
Until 10th June – The Map that Changed the World
An original example of the 1815 ‘Map that Changed the World’ is the centrepiece of this exhibition, hosted by the North Pennines AONB Partnership at the Bowlees Visitor Centre in Upper Teesdale. Smith, an engineer and surveyor, travelled the length and breadth of the country to collect data, then went on to produce his vivid and detailed map, applying layers of different colours to indicate the various rock types. Alongside the William Smith map, visitors can see the evolution of geological mapping, from smith’s ground-breaking work, to the way such maps look today. Daily 10am to 5pm, free.
*For bookable events visit the North Pennines AONB Partnership website at www.northpennines.org.uk/events-calendar